Senate, Assembly pass Jay-J’s Law, Sent to Governor to Sign into Law

June 22, 2013 Updated Dec 22, 2013 at 8:37 PM EDT

By Mitch Simon

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Senate, Assembly pass Jay-J’s Law, Sent to Governor to Sign into Law

June 22, 2013 Updated Dec 22, 2013 at 8:37 PM EDT

ALBANY, N.Y. (WKBW/Release) – Both the NYS Senate and Assembly have passed Jay-J's Law, a bill named after three-year-old Jay J Bolvin ,who suffered severe abuse from his father in 2011.

Jay-J’s Law amends the crime of aggravated assault upon a person less than 11-years-old by increasing the look-back period of a previous offense from three to 10 years.

Jay-J’s father was first convicted of third-degree assault after beating another one of his sons and breaking his arm in 2007.

Four years later, he abused Jay-J, leaving him with 11 fractured bones, a severe seizure disorder and a lifetime of developmental delays.

Since the look-back period at that time was only three years, Jay-J’s father missed an aggravated assault charge by only one year despite his history of violence against children.

“This is a long-awaited, hard-fought victory and an important step toward securing justice for Jay-J,” said Senator Tim Kennedy, who authored the bill. “Jay-J’s Law will pry open the look-back window from three to 10 years, and empower law enforcement to impose aggravated assault charges on abusers that have a history of severely and repeatedly hurting defenseless children. Jay-J’s story of recovery and the tireless fight of the Retzer family have been the driving forces behind this movement to strengthen state law against child abuse. Without their hard work and persistence, Jay-J’s Law may have never made it through the Senate and Assembly. This fight is not yet over. We must do all we can to prevent child abuse and ensure those who hurt children are kept behind bars for a long, long time."

“I am thrilled that the Assembly and the Senate were able to come together and help pass this critical bill into law in honor of Jay-J,” said Assemblyman Dennis Gabryszak. “This is the first step in increasing penalties for repeat child abusers, but we still have a long road ahead of us. Child abuse is not a crime that should ever be taken lightly, and it is my hope that Jay-J’s Law will encourage follow up legislation that will tighten the punishments for child abuse in the near future."

“Jay-J’s Law is a common-sense bill to make sure violent abusers are punished for hurting children. It won’t change the suffering Jay-J went through – or the struggles he faces now – but Jay-J’s Law will help protect other children across New York State,” said Jay-J’s Uncle Kevin Retzer. “We’re thrilled the Senate and Assembly finally reached an agreement to get Jay-J’s Law passed this year. It was a long fight, but we were happy to put in the hard work. Throughout this effort, Senator Kennedy and Assemblyman Gabryszak stood at our sides and helped us navigate Jay-J’s Law through the Senate and Assembly. We want to thank them and the WNY Delegation for working so hard on behalf of Jay-J.”

“Since the start of this fight, we’ve worked to make one thing clear: New York State needs to get tough on child abuse,” Kennedy said. “It starts with Jay-J’s Law, and must go on until we have, once and for all, secured justice for Jay-J and all survivors of child abuse across our state. We must always remain diligent in our efforts to protect New York’s children and relentless in our pursuit of even stronger penalties for those who hurt kids.”

“Extended look back periods enable prosecutors and judges to better identify recidivists who qualify for enhanced penalties upon subsequent conviction,” Gabryszak added. “While laws exist to protect children from abuse, many offenders can escape appropriate punishment because the sentencing judge or prosecutor may not have access to the entire record of the accused. Although no one single solution exists to establish a system in which the look-back period is appropriate for each conviction of a repeat offender, it is our goal to differentiate between unique offenders and hardcore recidivists.”

“We know our work is not yet done, and we’re going to keep fighting to make sure severe penalties are imposed when children become victims of severe or repeat abuse,” said Jay-J’s Aunt Chris Retzer. “We hope Jay-J’s Law will help inspire our friends and neighbors in Western New York and across the state to speak up for our children and help end child abuse.”

Earlier this year, Kennedy moved Jay-J’s Law through the Senate. An amended version was passed in the Assembly Friday, and the Senate approved the amended bill early Saturday morning.

The bill will now go to Governor Cuomo to be signed into law.

Senator Tim Kennedy speaks following the passage of Jay-J's law by both the Assembly and Senate.